Musheen's 'Etat' Shows That Cranking the Volume Is More Important Than Reinventing the Wheel

Musheen's 'Etat' Shows That Cranking the Volume Is More Important Than Reinventing the Wheel
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Etat — probably referring to the French word for "state" — is the newest full-length release from three piece punk/grunge outfit Musheen. The album has drawn ubiquitous — if at times lazy — comparisons to legendary feminist punk group Bikini Kill and a thumbs up from Kathleen Hanna herself.

However, Musheen's newest contribution to the riot grrrl lineage hails, not from the American West Coast, but from the city of Leonding in Upper Austria. It may be this physical separation from American punk's original stomping grounds that gives Etat its raw power and frenetic energy — qualities that are often out of reach to those too close to the source. This is to say that, while there's little on this album that has not been done before, the band has left all the trappings of self-consciousness and self-doubt so far behind that originality hardly seems the point. The very abandonment of self-consciousness that fuels Musheen's fits of abandon seems to be a running theme throughout this album's subject matter.

Etat begins with an infectious guitar riff evocative of the Cure's "Grinding Halt." The song quickly settles into the pocket of what Musheen does best: that is, turning lyrics with strangely pat-a-cake-like metres into punk bangers. The band was perhaps a little too quick in trying to show their range however, given that their second track, "Fences," is a slow, melancholy song evocative of early 2000s grunge-pop. "Fences" might have been received better had it appeared in the second half of the LP.

Musheen are in better form when staying within their wheelhouse on "Knife" and "Tits 'N' Cunts." It's difficult to tell whether "Soup" is the funniest song on the album, or the heaviest. In any case, the band take another opportunity in this brief track to explore their range and, this time, they stick the landing with a punk-funeral-dirge-turned-metal shit show.

All-in-all, Etat proves the old "if it ain't broke don't fix it" adage. They may not bring a whole lot of game changers to the table, but the infectious energy of some of their songs suggest that, when it comes to unabashedly feminist punk music that decries injustice, cranking the volume can go a whole lot further than reinventing the wheel. (Numavi)